The IPKat attended the first of three Copy-art.net talks in the Digital Studio of the Institute of Contemporary Arts last night. The speaker, Irini-Mirena Papadimitriou, is Curator of the copyright-free artwork on Copy-art.net's website. She is effectively also the guardian of a precious patch of online space in which artists and site visitors can communicate, interact and inspire each other. Artists who have contributed their work to this experiment include Reza Aramesh, Miltos Manetos and Carey Young (whose contribution is a collection of anonymous photographs which he found in a box and handed over for free downloading). The IPKat was quite impressed with the possibilities for dialogue and interaction which Copy-art.net, supported by the Arts Council, can provide. He feels however that Copy-art.net's attitude towards copyright is ambivalent, to say the least. the site's promotional material states that
"Submitted works can be downloaded, changed, distributed, exhibited and used by all visitors for free".However,
"Only commercial use is excluded, as all works are registered with Creative Commons under a non-commercial license".Since it is generally commercial use of the work of others that leads artists and designers into threats of unwanted litigation, and most non-commercial copyright is likely to be undetected, the exclusion of commercial use is disappointing. What's more, it can hardly be said that a copyright-free site that bars visitors from making use of the works displayed for commercial purposes
"intends to challenge the idea of intellectual property and test its limits in a copyright-free zone".Having said all that, the discussion that followed Irini-Mirena's introductory comments was lively, interesting and unusually well-informed. Those attending included artists, copyright lawyers, intellectual property researchers and even a sociologist; the discussion was never too technical for participants to plunge in and either ask their questions or state their credos.
Subjects discussed with varying degrees of passion included (i) whether Creative Commons was a threat to the copyright establishment or merely a device to paper over its cracks; (ii) whether Creative Commons was primarily of legal significance or whether it was an economic device for reducing the transactional costs of finding out if you were about to infringe someone else's copyright or not; (iii) what part could be played by Digital Rights Management (DRM) systems in either integrating Creative Commons into regular internet use or in suppressing access to information and (iv) whether artists were indeed badly treated by the existing copyright legal regime.
Two more talks will be hosted by Copy-art.net at the ICA before its exhibition finishes on 3 October. They are given by
* Szuper Gallery and Gavin Wade (Thursday 16 September) and
* Anna Best, Abigail Reynolds, A K Dolven, Miltos Manetas, Per Hüttner, e-2.org and Daniel McClean, co-author of Dear Images: art, copyright and culture (Thursday 29 September).
The IPKat says it's worth a visit, for the convivial discussion and the provocative thoughts.